Kezia looked up at the red frame and rails of the compact Mad Mouse roller coaster. Letting out a huff, she went directly to the queue. The weather was perfect, just warm enough to feel like summer, but not overbearingly hot as it had been just a week before. She was not going to let her stupid friends ruin what could be one of the best days of the entirely too short season. To be fair, she probably never should have agreed to visit Valleyfair as part of a trio, something she’d honestly learned back in junior high. She should have worked to bring someone, it wasn’t like she lacked friends, though most of them weren’t available for a middle of the week trip to the theme park. She could have brought her brother, for crying out loud. At least he liked the same kinds of rides. And that was the other issue; they should have discussed their interests in advance. All three of them had failed on that detail.
Her phone buzzed in the little hip pouch she’d worn to keep her small things secure. She pulled it out and swiped to get to the text.
Emma: Let us know when you want to meet up for lunch!
It was followed by a selfie of her friends riding on the little train that drove through the park.
Continue reading Singles Will Be Paired
There was once a great wolf who lived in a lush green forest. He was much like other wolves, embracing the freedom of night runs and enjoying routine meals of hare and the occasional deer. As a youth, he had left his pack to find his fortune in the wide world. Many of the woodland villages boasted the position of a town wolf, but time and again he was turned down. He was told he lacked the necessary qualifications or skill set, his personality wouldn’t mesh with the other staff, or in the few honest cases, he was just too damn big. Disillusioned, he settled under the canopy of green where he didn’t have to interact with many humans.
His nearest neighbor was an old woman who insisted that everyone simply call her Grandma. She was a witch, rapidly approaching retirement, and feared nothing and no one. To her credit, she was able to see past the fur, canine teeth, and impressive stature to appreciate the wolf as another of the forest’s valuable inhabitants. She welcomed her wild neighbors, both near and far, for polite conversation, meals, and the exchange of favors. Wolf had made a habit of fetching supplies from greater distances to save her arthritic joints the long journey. In return, she provided routine medical treatment and advice.
Grandma’s granddaughter dwelt in a nearby town with her parents and three younger siblings, though she often traveled the forest path. The ability to learn and perform magic skipped every other generation, making the granddaughter the next witch in the family. Her training under Grandma had been progressing along the usual lines, though Grandma expressed concern over what she had perceived as a cruel nature housed within a charming and adorable countenance.
Continue reading What Large Teeth
“Zoua!” I heard my name shouted over the din of music and too many voices talking. “Zoua, there’s a dragon at the door!”
I poked my head out of the kitchen and looked into the living room, crowded with friends and acquaintances. My sister was across the room at the door, encouraging someone to come in. Grabbing my beer bottle, I carefully moved around the group aggressively playing Boggle at the coffee table to the front door.
“No,” I heard her whine a little. “You have to come in. She’s going to love it.”
A young man in an amazing dragon costume stood in the doorway, clearly conflicted about something. He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t quite place him.
Continue reading Speed Writing #16 – The Dragon at the Party
A tingle started in the middle of Liz’s head, spreading down into her teeth. It was an odd sensation, but not unpleasant. She thought of it as her death sense, because when it kicked in, she was sure to find the body of some dead animal. The bizarre ability had yet to prove remotely useful, though it put her social life in critical condition. She looked up from her six-page, AP English paper, due tomorrow. Her eyes went to the window just as the sunshine-yellow Pontiac Aztek slowed, then stopped across the street. It was a weird looking car, not the sort of thing that belonged in this neighborhood with its green carpet lawns, evenly manicured hedges, and sport utility vehicles in the fashionable colors of hunter and maple. Each house was painted one of three approved shades of beige. Fortunately spring was far enough along that the landscape wasn’t completely bland, despite the developers’ best efforts.
It was sheer luck that she’d felt something dead in time to see this outsider, though she’d have to find whatever had died nearby before continuing to work on her paper. She could only ignore the tingling for so long before it became too distracting.
The driver’s side door swung open, and a tall thin man stepped out. He was pale, with light brown hair, and there wasn’t so much as a hint of khaki about him. He wore a shiny metallic blue, long sleeved shirt, tucked into snug black jeans. Liz briefly wondered if he might be gay, what with all the color, but decided he was probably just from the city. She’d heard urban people were flamboyant, and only the usual percentage of them were gay. He looked sort of like the people in her German textbook, foreign, so maybe that was his deal.
Continue reading Deputy Death
“Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe; all mimsey were the borogoves, and the mome raths outgrabe…”
“Is that all she says?”
“Yes. Over and over. Same thing.”
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun the frumious Bandersnatch!”
“What sort of rubbish is that? It doesn’t even sound like English.”
“Well it is, and it isn’t. It’s Jabberwocky. You know. The poem by Lewis Carroll?”
“That the guy who wrote about the magical wardrobe?”
“Not even close. What the hell kind of childhood did you have anyway? Didn’t you ever read Through the Looking Glass?”
“Irrelevant. Does she say anything else? Anything at all.”
“Well… not really.”
“You hesitated there. What is it?”
“Sometimes it’s as if she’s gotten stuck. She’ll repeat the same word over and over like she can’t remember the next line.”
“After a while she just kicks back in as if she’d never hit a glitch.”
“And what is this Jabberwocky…”
They think I can’t hear them, they think I don’t see what’s two feet away. Catatonic, they say. But I’m just ignoring them. They don’t know anything, and they’ll leave the room eventually. They always do.
Continue reading Tulgey Wood
The west end of the beach was a picture of chaos framed by the orange of the sinking sun.
Donna watched, curiously detached, ignoring the sand that was creeping into her shorts.
The wind blew her hair into her face, and she reached for the purse she’d never wanted. Mothers’ purses were full of scraps of paper, crayons and trash. She dug through the folds of the imitation leather bag, pushing aside the comb. Her hair would only re-tangle in this wind. She was too much like her own mother, she thought, as she shoved the empty wrapper from a stick of gum into a corner. There it was. A tattered green ribbon lay twisted around a McDonald’s straw in the bottom of her purse. One never knew when they might need a straw. The ribbon was short, but it would hold her hair back for now.
She scooped up a handful of sand, plucking out the quartzite pebbles and precariously piling them on her knees. Once her collection was complete she wiggled her leg, dropping the carefully gathered stones to the sand. She felt stronger for destroying something she’d made.
The rescuers were still hard at work, their chains clanking together like so many little bells. With the sun as a backdrop, they were featureless profiles. The cry of triumph was quickly followed by one of dismay. Someone in the rescue boat held aloft a dripping empty baby stroller with seaweed dangling from the wheels.
This dark flash fiction (exactly 250 words) was written as a challenge to include one or more of the following: pebbles, ribbon, gum wrapper, baby stroller, seaweed, straw, comb. As a smartass, I used all seven.
“Gryffindor,” Mikhail said firmly. “Neville Longbottom level.”
“Airbender,” Evie countered, a smug smile on her lips.
“What?” Mikhail asked, an eyebrow raised in confusion. “Did you just jump fandoms on me?”
“Ashitaka is clearly an airbender,” she replied. He was one of the few people she could have this type of argument with. “He’s all about peace and freedom. He’s practically a reincarnation of Aang.” She paused for a moment, her eyes going to the ceiling. “Though I’m not sure how that would work, since Aang’s already a reincarnation. So maybe we could call him alternate reality Aang.”
Continue reading Speed Writing #17 – Fandom Mashup
The power was out, as it had been for the last three days. Caleb sat on the front steps, leaning against the railing and fanning himself with the lid from the largest Tupperware bowl he’d been able to find. The neighborhood was smothering in the sticky silence of the second brutal heat wave of the summer. Nobody on this side of town could afford generators to power fans and refrigerators, and it was nearly too hot to move. For some of the city’s elderly folks, moving too much had been a fatal mistake.
Continue reading Speed Writing #15 – Heatwave
Hēi Māo woke slowly, stretching under the warm blankets and not even bothering to open his eyes. He was warm and comfortable, and though he knew it was well past his usual wake up time, there was no rush. The whole house was calm. His father’s house had been calm on Winter Solstice, too, though perhaps abandoned and bleak would have been better descriptors.
As he breathed in through his nose, the scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, and apple filled him. He groaned a little. Brigitte had said that making the wassail was one of her duties for the celebration of the holiday. As her familiar, he should be there with her, helping, learning the Defresne‑Li ways. While solstices and equinoxes were observed in the Parenteau household, it was always a quiet affair and not much of a celebration. At least not since his maman vanished. He was curious to see what was customary in normal families. He’d been in therapy a month now, but he already recognized that there had been nothing normal, and very little that was okay, about his upbringing in his father’s home.
Pushing away his blankets, he rolled to the side to get out of bed. Scampering on bare feet, he crossed the room and opened the trapdoor his witch must have closed so he could rest. She was so good to him! He’d spent the last month getting accustomed to a new schedule including school and homework. While he liked it very much overall, it had been an exhausting adjustment on top of so many other changes.
Continue reading A Vaguely Familiar Holiday
I woke disoriented and my eyes felt gritty. Sunlight was shining on me from a strange direction, though my blanket felt and smelled familiar. I stretched and rubbed my eyes before looking around the room. The eggshell white walls were bare and there were boxes stacked next to the dresser. I was in a new apartment. I’d moved my stuff in yesterday, but hadn’t finished in time to even start unpacking. Kicking off the blanket, I sat up and rested my feet on the bare wood floor. It was cool against my skin, so different from the carpet of my old place. But that had kind of been the point.
The efficiency was my first apartment on my own. The last place I’d shared with my boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend, rather. We’d broken up a couple months back, and it had been ugly and uncomfortable ever since. To be honest, it hadn’t been comfortable for the two or three months leading to our dissolution. Getting out was a relief, and it felt like I could finally breathe again. But it was also a very definitive sign that we were really through and there was no reconciling. Not that I really wanted him back. I mean he’d been a jerk. He’d already slept with two or three people since I told him we were through, and that didn’t count the ones he’d been with when we were supposedly monogamous. It wasn’t the end of the relationship that was hard; it was more the destruction of the idea of what the relationship was supposed to have been that hurt.
Continue reading Speed Writing #14 – Going Solo